Monday

Monday was supposed to start with some riding, but rain put that off. We sat in a presentation on the overall bike market and then We went through Cannondale’s new women’s line of bikes. Cannondale has been improving the bikes they build for women for years now. This year is no exception, we’ll be adding some to our own demo lineup.

After the presentations, I went back to my room to finish up the orders I came to place then got out riding again. This afternoon I rode a Bad Habit Carbon 1, I have to tell you it restored my mountain biking confidence, I was feeling a little timid after yesterdays fall. 120mm of travel and 3 inch tires will make most of us more confident. We rode the lift up and rode down – if you haven’t done it, it’s harder than it sounds. You’re holding on tight the whole way down, dropper post down (so standing up), and jumping at every chance. I know the Trigger is faster, but I have a brand new appreciation for a mid fat tire on a plush full suspension. I even doubled a jump (yes only one). This bike, and the location once again reminded me of why I like riding.

IMG_2095

Sunday

Sunday morning came pretty early for me. My usual Sunday morning I’m either up making a nice big breakfast with my wife, or I’m out riding early. Today I’m at a ski resort in New Jersey to see the new Cannondale and GT bikes, as well as see what I can learn about the bicycle business in general.

During the road presentation today I got the details on the new 2018 Cannondale Synapse – lighter (over 300 grams frame and fork) stiffer, more tire room, and most of them using disc brakes. As you know if you read my post from Saturday, it’s an amazing bike to ride. Snappier, more confident at speed, and pretty comfortable for long rides.

After Lunch we got to see the new Mountain bikes, some new scalpel models, F-Si in some great new spec’s and colors, the new Trigger. Most exciting are the changes to our everyday sellers like the Trail and Cujo models with 1x drivetrains.

Cannondale is going after the kids market too, lighter, better geometry for safely learning to ride, they even have a lefty on the smallest balance bike.

Through all of these new bikes there are two themes

  1. SE for Special Edition. Road, gravel, and mountain bikes with wider tires, wider bars, dropper posts and more suspension travel (in the case of the scalpel). These SE model bikes look great and have features many of our clients are asking for on their bikes.
  2. Electric Assist. We’ve been playing with a Quick Neo at the shop for a couple of weeks, this bike goes 20 mph without a ton of effort and has good battery range. There’s even a full suspension mtb and a hardtail 27.5 Cujo model.

So after the work today, I went on another ride. As I mentioned, I grew up as a roadie, and Ted King was leading a ride, couldn’t really turn that down now could I? I chose a SuperX SE – a model we have on the floor and will be offering some demo time on next week. It’s a Cyclocross bike with a wider rim and tire and a 1x drivetrain. Did I mention it has some really sharp WTB Riddler 37c gumwall tires, definitely in fashion right now.

Ted is a former world tour level pro rider, most of us that went along, are not. He took it easy on us. We went just over 20 miles and this bike definitely didn’t stop me from keeping up, my lack of miles did that for me. Beautiful hilly terrain again, one flat to repair (on a super6) and I was incredibly comfortable. Many of the reasons I like my Slate are shared in this SuperX. No worries for potholes or gravel and good solid rolling speeds.

After returning from the road ride, I grabbed a trigger and took it up the lift. I am not a big jump guy, I’m a decent cross country rider, but the rocky terrain and jumps are something I need some time to get used to. I followed Matt from Brick Wheels down the Greenhorn run a few times – on the last run I went over a feature and was surprised by the way it transitioned – I fell – moderately. More harmful to my pride than anything, but a good reminder to ride within your skill set. I’ll be bringing armor next time.

After dinner our GT inside rep walked me through the expanded GT BMX line as well, some great park, classic, and race product in here, check out the pics.

All in all, a good day.

Saturday

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I own a bike shop, it’s a decent gig. I work a lot, especially at some of the best ride times of the season. But it has it’s perks. Today I’m at a ski resort in New Jersey to see the new Cannondale bikes I’ll be selling in 2018. I’ll work all weekend, well kind of, sitting in presentations, evaluating the new product offerings and placing some orders… but when I arrived today I had the chance to take a new Cannondale for a ride.

I wasn’t even sure I wanted to ride, you know how it is… I’ve been moving through airports and sitting on a plane, then a bus to the hotel. On any given day I know if I go ride I’ll feel better, and today was no different. I couldn’t even make up my mind initially about what to ride, there are some amazing bikes here, but I grew up on road bikes, so that’s comfortable and makes me feel confident.

I settled on the 2018 Cannondale Synapse Hi Mod Disc Dura-Ace road bike. This bike is amazing in all the ways it should be, lightweight, it offers the comfortable geometry I need (I’m not 25 anymore), it’s stiff, and it shifts and brakes perfectly. One of the demo personnel sent me out on an 18 mile loop, perfect because I only had about an hour and a half before cocktail hour, wouldn’t want to miss that. This loop had everything, punchy little climbs, fast descents, in fact as I rode longer I realized, I was no longer paying attention to the bike, it was performing just as it should. It allowed me to look around at the scenery (it’s beautiful near Vernon, New Jersey), I had a flock of Turkey’s cross my path 20 strong, I saw deer, and more hawks than I have ever seen on any ride. In the last few miles of the ride, I was even on some gravel, which I love. To sum up, amazing, I feel great, now to head to that cocktail party.

I’ll try and share a few more experiences from this trip and of course the cool bikes I ride. We’ll have some form of most of them at the shop, and plenty of news outlets are better at the specifics of the bikes, so I’ll let them tell you what tires Cannondale chose to spec the bike with. Suffice it to say, I enjoyed this new Synapse, I’ve owned and ridden my share of top end road bikes, this one is as nice as I’ve ridden. Maybe this is my next steed, although I do like my Slate, maybe I’ll just need to have both of them.

I included a few pics as well, there’s a new SuperSix Evo with chrome seat stays, the new orange Slate with knobby tires and a new 1x spec, and of course the Synapse I rode.

 

What it means to love this sport.

There’s a risk in loving something too much and the risk is losing that thing which you love. This cycling community that we all circle in is something that we share a deep love for. The experience of the ride. The camaraderie of friends. The closeness of relationships developed over miles traveled, shared experiences and the passing of time.

12031480_793047920817525_6018387376716202564_o

That is what makes cycling special. It’s what makes the cycling community special. Some of us race, some us ride for fun, some of us love to ‘nerd out’ on gear, and others chase KOM/QOM’s. Some of us are simply looking for an excuse to eat whatever we want and drink a couple beers once in a while. For most of us, it’s a combination of these things that draws us to this sport.

The common thread however, is people. Today we lost a person. A friend, an athlete, a gentle force, a teacher (economics professor at Montcalm Community College), a mentor, a consummate competitor, a person who you could ALWAYS depend on for a supportive word and a smile. There was literally no exception to this.

I’m going to miss you Mike Seaman. I’m going to miss you for the races we did and the races we never will. I’m going to miss telling you about “this thing I wanted to tell you about”, and how you inspired many of us to push ourselves and to ulitmately persevere.

Sometimes we love this sport because it hurts. Your calves burn on climbs, your quads burn in a sprint. You give up skin on the road or the trail, and you cramp on a long ride. Yet, you persevere. You work through the pain. You manage it, you own it and ultimately overcome it.

That is what we are going to do today. We’re going to own this pain. We’re going to persevere. We’re going to think of our friend Michael Seaman and remember his laugh, his amazing attitude, his calming smile and we’re going to work very hard to make cycling safer to honor his memory.

– Don Lee

 

The Definitive Guide to Riding Your Bike To A Whitecaps Game

via facebook

Baseball season is in full swing! If you’re ever driving up US-131 or West River Drive during a home game at Fifth Third Ballpark, you’ve certainly noticed the traffic backed up for a mile in any direction. It’s even worse when the game gets out, with darkness compounding the congestion.

What a lot of people don’t realize is that the ballpark is surrounded by the White Pine Trail, the converted railroad line that extends from the North end of Riverside park to Cadillac. There are a ton of places to park and then ride your bike right up to the gates of the ballpark without dealing with traffic or paying for parking.

Where to start your trip

From the South:
If you’re coming from the south, Riverside Park on Monroe Avenue north of Leonard is an ideal place to stage. The most southerly parking at Riverside park is only 3.6 miles from the ballpark, all on paved off-street path. The path winds up through the park, with the option of a fast protected bike path next to Monroe Ave or a more leisurely winding path next to the river. Both converge at the expressway underpass and then a quick connection at the Park St roundabout gets you toward the White Pine Trail. Take the first right to go straight to the park, or continue under US-131 to connect to the path through Comstock Park. Both options go directly past the ballpark.

Looking to start and end your trip downtown? It’s easy to extend your ride. From downtown, just take Monroe Ave north, using the bike lane all the way to Riverside Park.

From the North:
A great option if you’re coming from towns on the 131 corridor, Rogue River Park off Belmont Ave in Belmont offers plenty of parking and direct access to the White Pine Trail.

Don’t forget about Trailside Treats behind Belmont Market to cool off!

When you get to the north access road near the AJ’s Family Fun Center next to the ballpark, follow the path left until you get to the south end of the ballpark.

At The Ballpark

The bike racks are located on the apron around the ballpark on the southern edge. At the time of this writing, they are the barricade style that accept a wheel, but not just a frame. Bring a flexible lock, like a strong cable or folding lock.

After The Game

Keep an eye out for inattentive drivers always, but especially when you get out of the game! Flashing lights are highly recommended as the human mind naturally notices flashing and movement. Be courteous to your fellow trail users!

Downtown Comstock Park is just down the path from the ballpark. Stop by for a 10th-inning beer at Elk Brewing, grab a pizza from Vitale’s, or an ice cream from Dairy Delite!

As always, ride and drink responsibly! And don’t eat too many hot dogs!!

Enjoy the game and drop us a line if you need anything to help get you riding!

The Mysterious Cue Sheet

Many of us that go on long rides these days have a fancy GPS device with some kind of navigation function, making it really easy to upload and follow whatever wacky route you cooked up late at night four beers in. In the olden days, riders would have to write down their turns by hand and wrap them or clip them to somewhere convenient, periodically checking throughout the ride to make sure they were on-course.

The big races and rides release the course maps and files ahead of time, but reading a cue sheet is a good skill to have (and more challenging!). Using just the instructions written down lends a bigger sense of adventure to a ride, and simply following someone around a turn becomes a much riskier proposition.

For the HellKaat Hundie, everyone gets a printed sheet with every instruction. We’re going to give you some pointers on how to read it. All cue sheets have the same basic features, so this lesson will be pretty portable to any race or ride.

cuesheet_2.PNG

On the very left you’ll see the “leg” distance. That’s the distance to the next instruction. Leg distances are sometimes in different columns, so familiarize yourself with them before starting your ride.

This example card has a visual indicator and a “type” which indicates left, right, straight, etc. This gives you a fairly easy method to identifying what you should look for without parsing an actual word in your head.

The Notes column has the actual instruction and the street, feature or landmark. Sometimes these are obscure such as “Turn left after the second barn”, but most of them will accompany a signpost of some sort.

The last column is the total odometer reading at the instruction point.

So for this example, you would read it, “In one mile, turn left onto 140th Ave. Your total distance at this point is one mile. In two miles after that, turn right onto 12th St. Your total mileage at this point is 2.9 miles (maybe 3)”.

Yes, there’s a minor discrepancy there, but that’s because a lot of cue sheets are automatically generated from a mapping program. You will encounter rounding errors here and there, but unless the routemaster is especially devious, there won’t be anything truly confusing. One tenth of a mile is 528 feet, so it’s close enough for government work.

If you get off-course, your total mileage will be off. That’s where leg distances are helpful. You can also use your odometer to figure out how far off you went, and then add that total distance (including doubling back) to your Total mileage. Otherwise, you’ll just need to be checking that cue sheet more often!

Knowing how to read a cue sheet is fun, adventurous, and a good backup for the space compass when you forget to charge it or it simply decides that reality is a lie.

See you out there!

Bike “Fit” – What’s the big deal?

By Mike Clark

In the past 10 years or so, the topic of “Bike Fit” in bike shops has gone from a behind-the-scenes protocol practiced by a few forward-thinking shops to “the mainstream”. You can “get fitted” now with lasers, stop-motion video capture, adjustable-while-you-pedal fit bikes or the tried-and-true tape measure and eyeball technique. (And you can expect to pay accordingly. The going rate for a “fitting” in U.S. shops ranges from $50-$600)

You can also find a bevy of physical therapists, sports medicine practitioners and yoga instructors offering fit consultations devoid of a shop connection – not to mention frame builders, coaches, and racers.

So, how did we get from “stand over this one, does it hit you in the crotch?” to a several-hundred dollar session involving body measurements, a flexibility assessment, and maybe some fancy tools? Basically, the advance of sports medicine and orthopedics gave us a lot of insight into how the body works best while on the bike. Lots of apparently small pieces make up the whole puzzle. Folks realized that bikes weren’t built for everyone out of the box.

The current general consensus that “Fit Matters” is great in our opinion, and we’d place ourselves among those aforementioned forward-thinking shops that figured out back in the day that offering our clients a more evolved level of bike fit was going to result in happier, more efficient, faster, and more comfortable riders with fewer injuries. We LOVE that the bike biz has caught on!

Fundamentally, your bike fits properly when your contact points (hands, feet, butt) are in the proper relationship when you sit on your bike(s). When your saddle height and fore-aft position is spot on you are a pedaling machine: efficient and powerful and protected from injury. When your “reach” or “cockpit” (the distance from saddle to handlebars) is correct for your particular combination of torso length, arm length, flexibility, age, injury history, riding style, goals, and preferences you are the ideal combination of biomechanics, aerodynamics, and comfort. When your handlebars are the proper width for your shoulder measurements, you slip through the air without giving up control or leverage.

And most of all: you ride without pain (or at least only with the pain of the effort – should you chose to go there)

How do we do “Fit” here at Alger Bikes?

We’re a bit “old school”. We believe in and rely upon The Fit Kit, the industry’s original fitting system. The Fit Kit showed up waaaay back in 1982 and remains utterly valid in the face of about 23 bazillion (estimated) new systems that have been developed over the past couple of decades. In addition to The Fit Kit’s database and bevy of tools we apply the knowledge and insights we’ve gained from performing hundreds of fits as well as riding thousands of miles. We’ll take some skeletal measurements, ask you a few questions about your injury history and goals and do a quick flexibility check. This will allow us to properly size your new bike and help us position you properly on it.

(This service is included with the purchase of any road, gravel, cyclocross, mountain or tandem bike)

We also offer “remedial” fittings for a bike that you like enough to keep but doesn’t currently fit well enough to ride. We can “fix” fit issues, help you nail down your aero bar position, chase away aches and pains, help you shop for a used bike that fits you and make sure that you’re in the proper position.

Regardless of your fit needs, we’re ready and eager to help you out. Please stop by any time!

Mike Clark has fit a pretty huge percentage of West Michigan’s riders, and has been professionally trained to fit a couple custom makers, like Seven Cycles

Cleaning the Barry-Roubaix Off Of Your Bike – The Alger Bikes Way

So – You raced Barry last weekend (or Melting Mann the weekend before, or Landrun 100 the week before that) and your bike is still sitting in the garage covered w/ mud, right?

We feel ya.

Early season gravel races, the infamous “Mud Year” up at Iceman or just all of those dirty rides in between – the cruel truth is that bikes get dirty…but work better when they’re clean.
So – how do we get there?

The longer that you let it sit, the bigger project it’s gonna be so let’s get it started

First off – water is okay. The car wash is a option but your good ol’ garden variety garden hose is good too.
RULE #1 – Do NOT direct water at high pressure at the headset, bottom bracket or hubs! Water isn’t bad per se….but blasting away at the bearings will ensure that you force H2O past the seals and contaminate the grease (Can you say “Time for a new bottom bracket?”). As a good guideline: direct running water PAST bearing areas, not AT them, and you’re good.
Remove the wheels and use the water to rinse off as much of the dirt/mud as you can. Then take a clean rag and do the “shoeshine boy thing” in all of the nooks and crannies, paying special attention to the derailleurs and brake calipers. An old toothbrush or that Park GSC-1 brush is good for getting crap outta the chainrings and frame junctions.
Once the frame and components are spotless (kidding!), give the wheels the same treatment. Make sure that you clean out the space between the cassette cogs ‘cuz dirt loves hangin’ out there.
Okay – wheels back on and onto….
SPECIAL PROJECT #1 – The chain is likely a mess. This guy has a huge job to do and is worthy of some TLC. Take a brush or clean rag (and maybe some degreaser) and clean it off as best you can. You’re gonna re-lube it and there’s no reason to lube a dirty chain as you’re simply rinsing the dirt down farther in the rollers. Park makes a cool device for cleaning your chain called the CG-2 that is essential a car wash for your chain that makes cleaning it a piece of cake… but failing that some elbow grease and some solvent will get’cha there. Once it’s as clean as you can get it, wipe it dry and apply your chain lube of choice (We like T-9).
SPECIAL PROJECT #2 – Your shift and gear cables are likely running through their respective housing slowly and with a lot of extra drag. Some attention paid to them can really help with shifting and braking. For the shift cables, shift your bike into the lowest gear then shift all the way into the highest WITHOUT TURNING THE PEDALS so that the cables hang loose. Then you can move the lengths of housing back and forth and even hit ’em w/ some lube. For the brakes you can lube the housings at the points where the cable enters and exits. (Note: Internal cable routing effectively eliminates this trick)
Once the cables are running as smooth as can be – it’s time for….
SPECIAL PROJECT #3 – Brake pads! Whether you were fortunate enough to finish B-R w/ function brakes or were among the decent percentage that were seen employing the “Flintstone Brake Maneuver” by the end, the fact is that wet gritty conditions beat the crap outta brake pads. Even if yours aren’t all the way gone, check them for wear and to make sure that there’s no grit embedded (that’ll ruin your rims or disc rotors).
Okay – that may sound like a lot of work but it’s r-e-a-l-l-y only about 45 minutes of good work – and you’ll be REALLY glad you did come Lowell 50 or the Hellkaat Hundie!

As always – stop by the shop w/ questions, issues, problems or just ‘cuz you wanna hang around and talk bikes!

Mike Clark has worked, owned, or operated bike shops most of his adult life. He has an inordinate amount of experience cleaning crud off bikes.

MikeClarkLandRun

Barry-Roubaix – The Final Countdown

Every year, hundreds of riders prepare to tackle West Michigan’s “Spring Classic”, the Barry-Roubaix, for the first time. Many of these riders haven’t tackled their chosen distance on gravel before. Others are looking for a benchmark against their peers. Yet others are gunning for a win. But if you haven’t raced Barry (the local nom de guerre for the event) before, what should you expect? How do you make final preparations?

Stay Fed!

The Barry-Roubaix is an unsupported race. That is, there are no official refueling points along the route. Support vehicles are verboten (and would be wildly dangerous) and the routes don’t cross paths with gas stations or other stops. A school or church group might offer a tiny cup of Gatorade, but riders need to be prepared to bring as much as they will need to finish strong.

Hopefully you’ve been planning your food and liquid strategy, but if not, expect to bring at least two “big” bottles (24oz is the standard) for the 36mi or 62mi routes. One bottle per hour is the typical recommendation, but your needs might vary depending on what kind of shape you’re in. Consider putting a third bottle in an extra water bottle cage, or putting one in your jersey pocket. If the forecast is wrong and it’s cold, make sure there’s enough sodium or sugar in there to keep it from freezing.

What about food? Don’t switch up your typical ride food at this point. In general you should never introduce a new food during a race, since you might discover that it doesn’t sit well when you’re riding even if you’re familiar with it off the bike. This is especially true of sports drinks and food, since they are very processed and dense. Dropping out due to indigestion is the most embarrassing way to end your day. If you’ve been eating PB&J for the past year, bring PB&J on your Barry bid. Plan on eating 300 calories or so per hour. Try and eat something every 30 minutes, and package your food so it’s easy to grab and eat while you’re on the bike!

In the morning, the general rule is to eat a hearty breakfast 3 hours before your start time, and then another 100-200 calories or so an hour before the start. This will give your body time to process the food without it putting all that energy into long-term storage.

Plan your pre-race setup!

Barry starts early, and you should get there even earlier. You need to get your kit on, sort out your tools and spares, gather up your food and make the final adjustments to your bike. If you live in or you’re staying in Grand Rapids, there’s a Friday night packet pickup at Founder’s Brewing. This will save you a half an hour or more in the morning on Saturday. Consider getting to Hastings at 7:00AM, as you’re going to have a tough time finding parking near the start. Get familiar with the venue map and know where the parking areas are.

Even though there’s a strong temptation to warm up during the beginning of the race, once the whistle blow you’ll be sailing on adrenaline and trying to keep pace with the rest of the leaders in your field. Spend 30-45 minutes getting the blood in your legs with a light to moderate effort. If you have a stationary trainer, put it in the car. It’s easier to get warm and stay warm if you aren’t roaming the streets of Hastings. If you do plan on warming up in the streets, pay attention to where you ride so you aren’t late to line up for your field.

Think about your kit. DO consider using chamois cream if you haven’t before. DON’T consider using embrocation if you haven’t before (bring leg warmers instead). Temps will go up as the day goes on, so even though you’ll feel chilly, start just a bit cold so you’re not boiling in a hardshell jacket a few miles in when the hills begin.

Don’t forget to use the porta-potties! PROTIP: take your gloves off and put them in your pocket BEFORE going in. Trust me.

Double-check your bike!

You may have gotten your bike back from a tune-up at the shop a few days before, but go back through and make sure everything’s the way you want it. Check your tires for debris lodged in the rubber. Lube and dry your chain the night before. Resist the urge to change your set-up! Go with what you know.

While you’re setting up your bike, make sure your cycling computer is charged and load the routes. The course is well-marked with marshals at most of the turns, but a computer will help you keep track of your pace and let you know how far you have to go.

Have fun!!

If all else fails, enjoy the camaraderie and share in the suffering of the riders around you. You’ll make new friends and have plenty to celebrate when you finally roll back into town! Chances are, you’ll finish the race and immediately be thinking to the next race! (such as the Hellkaat Hundie on April 22nd!)

I hope this helps you sort out the details for race day! Head to our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/algerbikes if you need any more tips for taking on this awesome challenge!

Chris is a 3-time Barry finisher, a 1-time DNF, and a 2-time spectator. He will be riding an absurd bicycle for the 2017 edition.

Avoiding the dreaded “JRA”

By Nathan Falls

You checked the weather. You inspected the kit you are wearing, filled water bottles, grabbed some energy bars, and strapped on your cycling shoes. After spending all that time getting ready, nobody wants to spend another 5 minutes to check their bike over. When asked to do a quick write up of a pre-ride bike checklist all I could think about was that feeling of “I just want to go ride!”

You get the bike out and give the tires a squeeze for pressure. Do you know what the range of PSI for the tire is (PROTIP: It’s printed or set in raised lettering on the side of every tire)? Tire pressure could be a blog in itself but for now making sure you know the range is important, and the max pressure is not always the recommended. Checking the quick releases or thru axles is a great next step. No one wants a wheel coming off during a ride. Grab each wheel and try to rock it from side to side. This will let you know if the axle is tight or if you have a loose hub.

Next up, grab the bars and while squeezing the front brake rock the bars, feeling for any play. This could mean you have a loose headset or stem. Put a hand on each crank arm and try the same side to side rocking motion to ensure the bottom bracket, crank arms, and pedals are not loose.

JRA

Yup, just riding along

Grab both brakes to ensure they are moving smoothly and pads are opening back up freely. Give the chain and good visual inspection, and if you have a geared bike, stand behind the bike looking at the derailleur hanger. Does the chain line up in a straight line from cassette down to both pulley wheels? If the rear derailleur is not straight this could likely be the culprit of poor shifting or a more serious mechanical failure during a ride. If everything looks good, shift through the gears a few times to make sure the shift cables are moving freely.

I know this sounds a bit like one of the many checklists we all do each day. But keep this in mind. Almost every time I am checking over a bike repair I hear, “I was just riding along.” The few minutes before a ride giving the bike a good once over can be the difference between a good ride and having the problem that means you are walking home. No special bike shop tools are needed, just a few minutes to make sure your bike is as ready as you are.

Nathan is our lead service writer here at Alger Bikes.